FIRST - CAUSES
1. GOD AND INFINITY - 2. PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD - 3. ATTRIBUTES OF THE DIVINITY - 4. PANTHEISM.
God and Infinity
1. What is God?
"God is the Supreme Intelligence-First Cause of all things."1
2. What is to be understood by infinity?
"That which has neither beginning nor end; the unknown: all that is unknown is infinite.''
3. Can it be said that God is infinity?
"An incomplete definition. Poverty of human speech incompetent to define what transcends human intelligence."
God is infinite in His perfections, but "infinity" is an abstraction. To say that God is infinity is to substitute the attribute of a thing for the thing itself, and to define something unknown by reference to some other thing equally unknown.
1 The passage placed between inverted commas after each question is the reply made by the communicating spirits, whose very words are given textually throughout the whole of this book. The remarks and developments occasionally added by the author are printed in smaller type wherever they might otherwise be confounded with the replies of the spirits themselves. Where the author's remarks occupy an entire chapter or chapters, the ordinary type is used, as, In that case, no such confusion could occur.
Proofs of the Existence of God
4. What proof have we of the existence of God?
"The axiom which you apply in all your scientific researches, 'There is no effect without a cause.' Search out the cause of whatever is not the work of man, and reason will furnish the answer to your question."
To assure ourselves of the existence of God. we have only to look abroad on the works of creation. The universe exists, therefore It has a cause. To doubt the existence of God is to doubt that every effect has a cause, and to assume that something can have been made by nothing.
5. What is to be inferred from the intuition of the existence of God which may be said to be the common property of the human mind?
"That God exists; for whence could the human mind derive this intuition if it had no real basis? The inference to he drawn from the fact of this intuition is a corollary of the axiom. 'There Is no effect without a cause.'"
6. May not our seemingly intuitive sense of the existence of God be the result of education and of acquired ideas?
"If such were the case, how should this intuitive sense be possessed by your savages?"
If the intuition of the existence of a Supreme Being were only the result of education It would not be universal, and would only exist, like all other acquired knowledge, in the minds of those who had received the special education to which it would be due.
7. Is the first cause of the formation of things to be found in the essential properties of matter?
"If such were the case, what would be the cause of those properties? There must always be a first cause."
To attribute the first formation of things to the essential properties of matter, would be to take the effect for the cause, for those properties are themselves an effect, which must have a cause.
8. What is to be thought of the opinion that attributes the first formation of things to a fortuitous combination of matter, in other words, to chance?
"Another absurdity! Who that is possessed of common sense can regard chance as an intelligent agent? And, besides, what is chance? Nothing."
The harmony which regulates the mechanism of the universe can only result from combinations adopted in view of predetermined ends, and thus, by its very nature, reveals the existence of an Intelligent Power. To attribute the first formation of things to chance is nonsense for chance cannot produce the results of intelligence. If chance could be intelligent, it would cease to be chance.
9. What proof have we that the first cause of all things is a Supreme Intelligence, superior to all other intelligences?
"You have a proverb which says, 'The workman is known by his work.' Look around you, and, from the quality of the work, infer that of the workman."
We judge of the power of an intelligence by its works as no human being could create that which is produced by nature, it is evident that the first cause must be an Intelligence superior to man.
Whatever may be the prodigies accomplished by human intelligence, that intelligence itself must have a cause and the greater the results achieved by it, the greater must be the cause of which it is the effect. It is this Supreme Intelligence that is the first cause of all things, whatever the name by which mankind may designate it.
Attributes of the Divinity
10. Can man comprehend the essential nature of God?
"No; he lacks the sense required for comprehending it."
11. Will man ever become able to comprehend the mystery of the Divinity?
"When his mind shall no longer be obscured by matter, and when, by his perfection, he shall have brought himself nearer to God, be will see and comprehend Him."
The inferiority of the human faculties renders it impossible for man to comprehend the essential nature of God. In the infancy of the race, man often confounds the Creator with the creature, and attributes to the former the imperfections of the latter. But, in proportion 55 his moral sense becomes developed, man's thought penetrates more deeply into the nature of things, and he is able to form to himself a juster and more rational idea of the Divine Being, although his idea of that Being must always be imperfect and incomplete.
12. If we cannot comprehend the essential nature of God, can we have an idea of some of His perfections?
"Yes, of some of them. Man comprehends them better in proportion as he raises himself above matter; he obtains glimpses of them through the exercise of his intelligence."
13. When we say that God is eternal, infinite, unchangeable, immaterial, unique, all- powerful, sovereignty just and good, have we not a complete idea of His attributes?
"Yes, judging from your point of view, because you think that you sum up everything in those terms; but you must understand that there are things which transcend the intelligence of the most intelligent man, and for which your language, limited to your ideas and sensations, has no expressions. Your reason tells you that God must possess those perfections in the supreme degree; for, if one of them were lacking, or were not possessed by Him in an infinite degree, He would riot be superior to all, and consequently would not be God. In order to be above all things, God must undergo no vicissitudes, He must have none of the imperfections of which the imagination can conceive."
God is eternal. If He had had a beginning, He must either have sprung from nothing, or have been created by some being anterior to Himself. It Is thus mat, step by step, we arrive at the idea of infinity and eternity.
God is unchangeable. If He were subject to change, the laws which rule the universe would have no stability.
God is immaterial, that is to say, that His nature differs from every-thing that we call matter, or otherwise. He would not be unchangeable, for He would be subject to the transformations of matter.
God is unique. If there were several Gods, there would be neither unity of plan nor unity of power in the ordaining of the universe.
God is all-powerful because He is unique. If He did not possess sovereign power, there would be something more powerful, or no less powerful, than Himself. He would not have created all things and those which He had not created would be the work of another God.
God is sovereignty just and good. The providential wisdom of the divine laws Is revealed as clearly In the smallest things as In the greatest and this wisdom renders it impossible to doubt either His justice or His goodness.
14. Is God a being distinct from the universe, or is He, according to the opinion of some, the result of all the forces and intelligences of the universe?
"If the latter were the case, God would not be God, for He would be effect and not cause; He cannot be both cause and effect."
“God exists. You cannot doubt His existence, and that is one essential point. Do not seek to go beyond it; do not lose yourselves in a labyrinth which, for you, is without an issue Such inquiries would not make you better; they would rather tend to add to your pride, by causing you to imagine that you knew something, while, in reality, you would know nothing. Put aside systems. You have things enough to think about that concern you much more nearly, beginning with yourselves. Study your own imperfections, that you may get rid of them; this will be far more useful to you than the vain attempt to penetrate the impenetrable."
15. What is to be thought of the opinion according to which all natural bodies, all the beings, all the globes of the universe are parts of the Divinity, and constitute in their totality the Divinity itself; in other words the Pantheistic theory?
"Man, not being able to make himself God, would fain make himself out to be, at least, a part of God."
16. Those who hold this theory profess to find in it the demonstration of some of the attributes of God. The worlds of the universe being infinitely numerous, God is thus seen to be infinite; vacuum, or nothingness, being nowhere, God is everywhere: God being everywhere, since everything is an integral part of God, He is thus seen to be the intelligent cause of all the phenomena of the universe. What can we oppose to this argument?
"The dictates of reason. Reflect on the assumption in question, and you will have no difficulty in detecting its absurdity."
The Pantheistic theory makes of God a material being, who, though endowed with a supreme intelligence, would only be on a larger scale what we are on a smaller one. But, as matter is incessantly undergoing transformation, God, if this theory were true, would have no stability. He would be subject to all the vicissitudes, and even to all the needs, of humanity He would lack one of the essential attributes of the Divinity -viz., unchangeableness. The properties of matter cannot be attributed to God without degrading our idea of the Divinity and all the subtleties of sophistry fail to solve the problem of His essential nature. We do not know what God is but we know that it is impossible that He should not be and the theory just stated is in contradiction with His most essential attributes. It confounds the Creator with the creation, precisely as though we should consider an ingenious 'machine to be an integral portion of the mechanican who invented it.
The intelligence of God is revealed in His works, as is that of a painter in his picture but the works of God are no more God Himself than the picture is the artist who conceived and painted it.